Up a creek behind a Mute Swan

While on an exercise/photo expedition in my kayak on the Navesink River this morning I re-learned some important lessons about wildlife:

1) Bring your longest lens.
2) Don’t bother trying to photograph Bufflehead right after duck hunting season ends (they’re very skittish).
3) Don’t follow a Mute Swan up a creek during breeding season
4) Make sure you know how to paddle really fast in reverse when following a Mute Swan up a dead end creek during breeding season.

I’ve always been aware that swans are powerful animals. I also know that they are capable of breaking a human limb. I also know that you don’t corner an animal. And I know that you want to be careful during breeding season.

You’d think I would have been more cautious.

I thought I was keeping a respectful distance from a pair of swans during my morning kayak.

Unfortunately, the cob (the male) thought I was too close, and as I took this photo, I realized he was beginning to busk (that’s when their neck goes into that beautiful curve and they start swelling up in size as they raise their wings like the swan boats in Boston’s Public Gardens).

Long story short, I ended up paddling for my life in reverse, and after I turned my kayak around in a wider part of the creek, he continued to pursue me. As a matter of fact, as I started going full speed in forward mode, he began to use the open water as a place to take off in full pursuit of me, which is an advanced stage of busking. When I saw how large he was and how quickly he was closing the gap I realized I would have to defend myself. Fortunately, as I began to turn the kayak’s bow back towards him so I could hopefully keep him at bay with my paddle, he returned to the water and slowed his pursuit. I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t a bit intimidated.

I wish I could have taken the shot of him taking off towards me, since it was a spectacular sight, but at that point, my life was more important than the photo.

My wife can be assured that I got my exercise this morning.

If you’d like to see more photos from the morning kayak you can see them here at my website H2Ophoto.co in the On The Navesink Gallery

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